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Holy Motors (2012)

Not Rated  |   |  Drama  |  4 July 2012 (France)
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From dawn to dusk, a few hours in the shadowy life of a mystic man named Monsieur Oscar.



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Mr. Oscar / Le Banquier / La Mendiante / L'O.S de la Motion Capture / M. Merde / Le Père / L'Accordéoniste / Le Tueur / Le Tué / Le Mourant / L'Homme au Foyer
Céline (as Édith Scob)
Kay M
Eva Grace (Jean)
Elise Lhomeau ...
Léa (Élise)
Jeanne Disson ...
L'Homme à la tache de vin
Le Dormeur / Voix Limousine (as LC)
Nastya Golubeva Carax ...
La Petite Fille
Reda Oumouzoune ...
L'Acrobate Mocap
Zlata ...
La Cyber-Femme
Geoffrey Carey ...
Le Photographe / Voix Limousine
L'assistante photographe
Elise Caron
Corinne Yam


From dawn to dusk, a few hours in the shadowy life of a mystic man named Monsieur Oscar.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis




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Release Date:

4 July 2012 (France)  »

Also Known As:

Sveti motori  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


The film's initial concept started with a trend Leos Carax had observed where stretch limousines were being increasingly used for weddings. The director was interested in the cars' bulkiness. From that grew an idea for a film about the increasing digitization of society; a science fiction scenario where organisms and visible machines share a common superfluity. See more »


Céline: You're ill.
Mr. Oscar: I think I caught a cold killing the banker.
See more »

Crazy Credits

"Katya, for you" with a picture of Yekaterina Golubeva during the closing credits. See more »


Featured in Brows Held High: Beauty and the Beast: Part 2 (2014) See more »


Funeral March (Adagio molto)
from String Quartet No. 15 in E flat minor (Op. 144)
Written by Dmitri Shostakovich
See more »

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User Reviews

Cinematic experience at a most cerebral level
10 November 2012 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

A bizarre, enigmatic and brave cinematic return to feature film making from Leos Carax, after a 13 year gap, Holy Motors is a self-consciously low budget odyssey of ambiguous, pseudo-linear intentions. After five years attempting to raise funds for a large budget English language film that ultimately fell through, Carax turned his attentions on a native language film with a smaller cost, and was inspired when observing the many limousines driving around Paris. Regular collaborator Denis Lavant plays the mysterious Monsiuer Oscar, who is driven around the city in the white stretched vehicle, taking him to the variety of "appointments" of the day. The appointments appear to be a series of acting jobs, where Mr Oscar dresses up for the multitude of roles.

From a dishevelled gypsy woman, - through a banker, and a dying millionaire - to a crazed vagabond who kidnaps a fashion model, Kay M. (Eva Mendes), Oscar glides through the day and into the night, changing his appearance with make-up and prosthetics, fulfilling his duty to a mysterious company, accomplishing the jobs he is given information through files in the back of the car. In other scenarios Oscar is dressed in a black leotard with white dots, as he enters a very industrialised building where he performs a motion-capture dance and highly sexualised duo with a red-clad blond woman, as it turns into the serpentine CGI creation; in another, Oscar joins his 2 point 4 family unit, which consist of chimpanzees.

Whilst Carax takes many stylistic references from David Lynch, the film also offers a quite unique sense of humour. In one scene, Oscar is playing a dying rich man, who has his step-niece beside him in his last moments. After dying, Oscar climbs from the bed, the niece still sobbing into the covers, he turns back to ask the girls name, and offering apologies for his swift exit: "I have to get to another appointment" he states, which is returned with the reply that she also needs to leave for another appointment (It's funnier on screen than in writing - and certainly after the incredibly moving moments of death). It's a jarring punch-line to a heartfelt moment. Small details of technological modernity invade the mis-en-scene, for example, when Oscar is the vagabond, he wildly runs through a cemetery eating flowers, each gravestone has its own www.address.

Holy Motors is without question a film about film, and film making, offering allusions to Jean Cocteau and Jean-Luc Godard. Fundamentally though, this film seems to evoke another French original, Georges Franju, whose film Eyes Without a Face (1960) is highly referenced. Edith Scob (who played the masked victim in the film), drives Mr Oscar around, and actually reprises her role, and hides her face once again under the mask. The mysterious events in the film could also be regarded as a comment on changing nature of cinematic production. From the motion capture sequence to the nature of Oscar scatological "job", the film seems to lament the loss of real cinema - Carax filmed in digital video (a format that he hates) for budgetary reasons.

What is so beautiful about this mode of cinema is the complexity of meaning. This is film so dense in symbolism that it requires repeat viewings. Whether it's about the changing face of cinema, the acting profession, or an exploration of the nature of identity (Oscar could represent the many faces that we have to put on each day, in the performance of life, and our increasing need to compartmentalise each element of our lives), it doesn't really matter what the directors true intentions were. This is cinematic experience at a most cerebral level. We are not given the meaning, but we take from it what we bring to it, and can interpret it how we want. Lavant creates a fantastic, multi- faceted performance, even managing to hold an erect penis in the most unsexy environment ever. Kylie Minogue even manges to be perfectly suited for her small role in which she may have been a past lover of Mr Oscar, she also sings a song written by Carax and Neil Hannon, which enlightens a dingy musical movie moment.

30 of 53 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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